How do we get close to God? The Biblical answer oddly enough is to participate with God in His sufferings and rejection. This seems very odd to our fun and entertainment crazed culture. We are to fill up (on) what is lacking in Christ’s sufferings by the active proclamation of His Gospel for which we will be persecuted (Colossians 1:24-29; 2 Cor. 1:4-5). [People do not like to hear the Gospel; it is the smell of death to those who are perishing (2Corinthians 2:16)]. Paul said, “I want to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). We are OK with knowing Him. We are OK with the power of His resurrection—we want that. But fellowship of His sufferings?
If we want fellowship with God we have to suffer?? What is He saying here? The key here is to participate in HIS suffering. This is not self-imposed suffering. Why? Because self-imposed suffering accomplishes little (Col. 2:20-23). So the true follower of Christ follows in Christ’s footsteps. He obeys Christ as Christ obeyed His Father. This obedience does not lead to fun, happiness and prosperity as some would have us believe, but to suffering and rejection and even to the shedding of one’s own blood. [Many are being killed for this Gospel around the world. It is not unusual.] But we cannot boast even in this: no one can boast before God. But we are to rejoice in suffering for His gospel, because it does the work of God in us (Roman 5:3-5). It brings us close to God.
The way to get close to God is to do His work. Jesus said, “If you love Me you will obey Me” (John 14:15). And we can’t do His work in our own strength. We actually need the power of His resurrection because that is what we are doing—raising people from the dead.
Look at the dry bones (Ezekiel 37:4-6). Without God the task of evangelism would be impossible. The fact that people come to God at all is proof it is from God and not from man.
When we do God’s work in God’s way, it gives us a joy no one else can know. This joy comes from God.
What is His work? It is to seek and save the lost by active proclamation of His kingdom. When we do this we will receive suffering and rejection from the world, but an eternal joy, as sons of the kingdom and joint heirs with Christ. Is it worth it? Oh Yes!